After outrage over Taylor Swift tickets, reform has been slow across the US

September 1, 2023  -SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When thousands of fans couldn’t get tickets for megastar Taylor Swift’s summer stadium tour, some diehards paid upwards of 70 times face value to see their favorite artist in person — an outrage that prompted Congressional hearings and bills in state legislatures to better protect consumers.

After 10 months, Swift’s U.S. tour is finished, but so are most of the meaningful reforms consumer advocates and industry groups had hoped to pass this year. A proposal has so far failed to advance in the U.S. Senate. Legislation in Colorado was vetoed by the Democratic governor at the urging of some consumer groups.

In California, home to iconic recording studios like Capitol Records and influential clubs like the Whiskey A Go Go and Hollywood Bowl, what started as a robust array of legislation has been watered down to a single bill banning hidden fees, something New York and Connecticut have done and most major industry players have already committed to do on their own.

“That’s it? That’s all that California, the leading state in the nation on so many consumer protection issues, that’s all we’re going to do?” said Robert Herrell, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California. “That’s an embarrassment. It’s not enough.”

The slow progress over changing how tickets should be sold and resold highlights not just the strength of industry opposition, but the regulatory difficulties in a market upended by technology. Gone are the days of standing in line at a box office to find out what seats were available and how much they cost.

Today, nearly all tickets are sold online and downloaded to phones or other devices. Consumers often don’t know how much they will pay until just before they click the purchase button and fees and charges, which can sometimes be almost as much as the ticket price, are applied.

Venues often don’t say how many seats are available for a specific event, according to consumer groups, but instead release tickets in batches, making consumers spend more out of the mistaken fear they’ll miss out.

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